Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Short Rib Ragu - Perfect Cold Weather Comfort


This is one of the best dishes I've made in the past year or two, possibly the very best in terms of flavor. I've served it over small pasta shapes, but it is likely best over polenta, either loose or grilled in cakes. It is very rich, so stretches to more servings than one would expect.


What makes this recipe so good?  Anything with short ribs is pretty darn good.  This recipe creates several distinct rich flavors - meat, vegetable, wine, herb - which all present themselves in the final dish.


Cooking tip: Scrape down the sides of your Dutch oven or roasting pan during and at the end of cooking.  The browned coating on the edges is super concentrated flavor that can be returned to the cooking liquid.



   1/3 cup dried porcini mushrooms

   3 pounds beef short ribs

   1 cup onion, chopped

   1 large stalk celery, chopped

   2 carrots, chopped

   3 medium garlic cloves, sliced

   2 anchovies

   2 T tomato paste

   1 large sprig rosemary (or 1 T dried)

   4 sprigs thyme (or 1 t dry)

   2 cups full bodied red wine (Cabernet or a blend)

   2 T soy sauce

   1 fresh bay leaf (or two dried)

   2 cups imported San Marzano tomatoes with sauce     

   3 cups beef stock

         - or 1 cup veal stock plus water



   Dutch oven, or large oven proof pot



  • Soak mushrooms in 2 cups boiling water
  • Salt and pepper ribs, brown in batches, remove
  • Sweat onion, celery, carrot, garlic, anchovies, tomato paste,  fresh thyme
  • Add wine and soy reduce to half
  • Return ribs to pot, add bay leaf, mushrooms and soaking liquid (avoid gritty bits at bottom)
  • Add tomatoes, stock and water to barely cover ribs
  • 350 oven, covered, 3 hours
  • Scrape down sides of pot several times while cooking
  • Remove ribs, blend veg and sauce with a stick blender. Season with salt and pepper.
  • Separate rib meat from bones and shred. Return to sauce.



Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Easy Roasted Sausage Peppers and Tomatoes

This is a favorite 3 ingredient dish. Just add herbs - any mix will do. 

Add 2 lbs Italian sausage, 2 or 3 red and yellow peppers cut into 1-2 inch pieces and 3 or 4 containers of cherry tomatoes  to a large roasting pan. Liberally douse with olive oil, kosher salt and fresh cracked pepper. Toss in 2 sprigs each of thyme and rosemary along with 1 bay leaf and 3 large garlic cloves. 

Roast this mess at 375 for about 45 minutes. If you remember, stir the ingredients around once or twice while cooking. You'll end up with a sweet-savory mix that is great on pasta. 

Monday, May 26, 2014

Crispy Skinned Salmon + lightly Creamed Leek and Cabbage

Great technique on the salmon from this Food52 pairing (  Scraping moisture from fish skin with the blade of a chef's knife is a technique Thomas Keller mentions in The French Laundry Cookbook. Along with using high heat, this is a foolproof way to cook meaty fishes. 

The. cabbage dish is one that even cabbage-averse eaters will enjoy. Technique is again a key to make this dish work. Add the cabbage to the pan of bacon and leek in three successive batches to have a blend of soft, medium and slightly crispy textures.

Sunday, April 28, 2013

Batali Menu - Stuffed Meatloaf (?? !!), Pasta w Jalapeño and Crawfish,

This picture kind of stinks, and the mushroom, yellow pepper and spinach didn't work out (probably the quality of the spinach, not the recipe).....but this was a really nice dinner.
The pasta with crawfish and jalapeno was excellent - in part because there were just a few high quality ingredients. Thins strips of gently sautéed jalapeno did not make a spicy dish - just a well flavored one. The dish also relied on Batali's excellent basic tomato sauce, about which I will describe soon on Be A Better Cook.
The meatloaf-like dish was wonderful. The meat mixture was 50/50 beef and sausage, along with the expected breadcrumbs and milk. Not expected was a substantial amount of Pecorino Romano in the meat mix. The stuffing included blanched spinach and carrot batons, mortadella slices and fontina cheese. It might be a little intimidating to roll up a giant piece of meat - but it wasn't too hard with 4 hands involved.
The three recipes came from Mario Batali's iBook "Simple Family Meals", which is the first electronic cookbook I've found that is better than a traditional hardcopy cookbook. More on that recommendation coming soon.


Monday, December 31, 2012

Christmas Menu - Crown Roast, Alsatian Potato Pie

Christmas at home in Houston - a little different than cooking in various relatives' kitchens in Chicago for the past few years. Le menu.....

Egg Nog
Crown Roast of Pork Stuffed with Winter Fruits

The last three recipes came from Hubert Keller, who currently has a show on PBS. You can find his recipes here. Be careful though, there are errors in some recipes and the website has errors too. The vegetable technique for cooking each veg separately is commonly used in high end kitchens - I think I first saw it from Thomas Keller - and is worth the extra effort. The Tart aux Fruits recipe is not in the list of desserts - but is in the master list of all recipes. And there are no pictures of the dishes on the site - a shame because many are beautiful.

 Alsatian Potato Pie from Hubert Keller
 Crown Roast of Pork with Winter Fruits - apricot, prune, dried blueberry, dried cherry

Tart aux Fruits from Hubert Keller
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